Monday, July 27, 2009

I am a) Enjoying Alex b) Keeping Shabbat c) Making Friends d) Mistaken for a Prostitute e) All of the Above (Answer: E)

I know I told many of you that we would be getting guest bloggers soon, and we will, but in the interim I will update you with some amusing, and less amusing, anecdotes:

1) Friday I spent much of my time studying in Carrefour, but I decided that on my last fully free day in Egypt (we don't generally have class on Friday, but sometimes we're on a trip...) needed something else...something beautiful. So I took a microbus the end of coast where the "Castle" which sits on its edge with my friend Emma. I tried the street foods (oddly, its all vegetarian and has a very very high probability -- high enough for me, at least-- of being fully kosher), corn on the cob (brittle and tasteless) and some sort of yellow legume (under-boiled and over salted), for a pound each, drank Turkish coffee (mazboot), looked out at the sea, watched a fairly successful fisherman, got harassed by some of the shebab (youth), one of whom gave me a piece of gum (dear Lord) to remember him by, watched the matted and mangy cats eat the picnic-er's bread and meat scraps, watched those same picnic-ers throw their garbage BAG into the rocky outcrop that faces the sea, felt a little ill at that, got over it, took some pretty pictures, and returned home with just enough time to shower and prepare for sundown. Gorgeous.

2) My Shabbat was lovely. Five or six of my friends ended in my room, just chillin, hangin, readin', studyin' had a sort of normal Shabbat feeling for a bit. I still haven't made it to the synagogue here. But a friend of mine did and he said its like a Jews really attend it. I have one more Shabbat here, then one in Israel, one in Seattle, and the next one in Morocco.

3) I have discovered that when other guests come to our hotel I sometimes am overcome by this weird possessive feeling and I'm strangely annoyed that these Others are allowed to hang out with Muhammad and the other hotel staff, are fed and watered by our breakfast girl (can you tell I don't know her name...eek), have their beds made by Sahr and Aziza. And maybe its because we've had some pretty weird guests. There was this one guy who had weird dreadlocks and mannerisms, and told us more than we needed to know about his travels, personal philosophies, and the bar he owns up in that loft apartment over the great party that is America [that was for you, Jack]. Oh and there was this French family who made a lot of noise at night and then in the morning couldn't get their act together enough to leave the hotel and I had to sit in the lobby listening to them twitter (not in the Interweb sense) in French while I satisfied my Internet Itch (I'm an addict). Etc. But today I may actually have made friends with some of the guests in our hotel. One of them - Ahmed- is from Holland, but his parents are Egyptian and he's visiting with his friend from Portugal. He explained why we say "Al-Hummdulila" when someone sneezes. Its because your heart stops for one or two seconds when you sneeze, and you have to thank Allah for the fact that your heart begins again afterward. A lovely sentiment, if you give it a minute. I'm sure that we Jews have some similar idea somewhere in our takleed ("tradition", or, according to Hans Wher, "blind faith" or "to put on a necklace for a woman").

4) I was mistaken for a prostitute on the way to school yesterday morning. Yes. I was walking to school in normal clothes (read: jean skirt, green tank-top over white t-shirt, wearing my backpack). A guy pulls up in a little beat up red car. He sees me, his eyes perk up, and he says "Foloos!?" (which means "Money!?"), at which point I give him a glare and continue walking, ignoring him entirely. I walk a bit more, thinking he'll just drive off. He does nothing of the sort. He followed me for four blocks. He follows me in his car, stopping a 200 meters or so ahead of me and waiting for me to catch up with him so that he can proposition me again, offering me "sita" (which means "six" and I can only imagine he was offering me 600 LE....? Unless he really only thought I was worth $1.17, which, I mean...really!). I was incredibly indignant and kept a scowl on my face while still doing my utmost to totally ignore him, which, admittedly, was sickeningly difficult. I trained my eyes straight ahead and finally turned up a one way street so that he couldn't follow me, and walked down a much smaller parallel street. But he was determined. He found his way around the block and came UP that parallel street! This time, he stopped his car (I was terrified that he would get OUT of his car and come up to me on this newly deserted street), and flashed a fanned wad of cash at me, and yelled "FOOLOOS!", at which point I had had about enough and, as sternly as I could, I choked out, a "Haram Alayk!" ("Shame on you!") and kept walking, very fast, frowning. He drove on (the opposite direction of me), and I hoped that was the end of it. But it was not. He came around the block AGAIN. This time I was determined to make a fuss. But, as it turned out, I didn't need to. He had come back to apologize. "Ana Aasif! Ana Aasif!" he yelled at me as he turned his car around. I think he realized I wasn't a prostitute. I went to Coffee Roastary, got myself a double shot, skim latte and tried to learn some Arabic. Sigh.

In other news....drumroll.......I now know all of my travel plans! (Tentatively.)
Alex-->Cairo (train);
Cario-->Taba/Eliat (bus);
Eilat-->J'lem (bus);
J'lem-->Tel Aviv (sheirut);
Tel Aviv-->Amman (plane);
Amman-->Cairo (plane);
Cairo-->Frankfurt (plane);
Frankfurt-->D.C. (plane);
D.C.-->Altlanta (plane);
Atlanta-->Seattle (plane).
Oh and then Seattle --> Morocco on the 19th. But I can't think that far ahead.

I'm in the mood for Israeli music in anticipation for my travels...its called "בינונימי" (Binonimi") and its by Arik Berman.

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